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In Time by Craig Armstrong (Review)

posted Oct 29, 2011, 11:42 AM by Kaya Savas   [ updated Oct 29, 2011, 11:43 AM ]

When it comes to science fiction scoring I always like to see the composer create an established universe; something unique for the characters to exist in. If anyone has played Mass Effect then they know what an amazing score can do to transport you emotionally into a world. With In Time Craig Armstrong achieves this right off the bat. The score isn't trying to be a futuristic score, but with the story and the images it automatically becomes that. You can listen to any track from here without knowing what the music is from and you already feel like you're somewhere different.

The music is simple in approach, but then again those are the best scores. Grand emotions come from simplistic approaches. Any composer who tries to do too much gets bogged down in complex themes and structures that end up taking away from the story on the screen. This is not a minimalist score, and for the record I despise minimalist scores (yes that means Philip Glass). What Armstrong does here is use electronic sounds to lay a foundation down and then build on top of them. There is always a sense of longing brought upon in the music as if we are supposed to want to escape the world that Armstrong has built musically. Tension is always present and you always feel a tad bit unsettled. If I have one gripe with the score is that the music stays at a certain level, and even when the action tracks kick in it never builds that much. I feel like the action needed more instead of just percussive electronics and pulsating strings. They don't really build off the amazing soundscape that Armstrong establishes, but they work just fine.

While In Time may be forgettable I don't think the score is. I think Armstrong did something quite great here. He isn't changing the game or giving us anything that's gonna stop the presses, but this is a solidly great score. It's fine tuned to hit the right beats and craft a unique atmosphere. It doesn't go overboard with the "futuristic" aspect to make it campy, but instead allows the film to leave its own stamp on the music. A little bit of ethnic instrumentation helps the score feel organic and adds a touch of mystique. Some of it reminded me a little of what Eric Serra did in The Fifth Element. Overall this is a great listen and is worth taking a chance on.